Japanese man pleads guilty in wreck that killed Marine
July 24, 2004
OKINAWA CITY, Okinawa — A Naha District Court prosecutor Wednesday asked for a 34-month prison sentence for a Japanese driver who struck a 19-year-old Camp Hansen Marine in a fatal accident in May.
Lance Cpl. Antonio P. Rodriquez was crossing Highway 75 at 3:55 a.m. May 23 when he was struck by a car driven by Tatsuya Yohen, 33, of Ishikawa, according to the indictment charging Yohen with professional negligence resulting in death and injuries and driving while intoxicated.
In Japan, all licensed drivers are considered professional drivers.
Rodriquez, of Pawtucket, R.I., was assigned to the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group. He reportedly was in Gushikawa’s Akamichi district when struck by Yohen’s car, which then plowed into a taxi.
Rodriquez was taken to nearby Chubu Hospital in a state of cardiac arrest with severe head injuries. He was pronounced dead at 5:31 a.m.
The taxi driver fractured his kneecap and sustained other injuries, which required a month of medical treatments, according to statements at the hearing. A 27-year-old passenger in Yohen’s car suffered minor injuries.
During the opening session Wednesday, Yohen pleaded guilty to both charges. According to evidence presented during the hearing, a Breathalyzer test showed he exceeded the legal limit for alcohol and also was driving almost 13 mph over the 40 kilometer per hour (24.8 mph) speed limit.
Yohen has been in police custody since his arrest at the accident scene. He is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 16 in the Naha District Court’s Okinawa City branch.